There’s cruising and then there’s cruising. None of the garish bright colours of orange and turquoise, no waterslide pools and no buffet with cheap food that extends for miles. Not on Silver Whisper, one of the ships in the fleet of Silversea.
This elegant 6-star vessel with capacity for 382 passengers and 302 crew members stands out along the Helsinki shoreline, its stopover for a day on its voyage through the Baltic Sea. You saw right, the figures are correct, the ratio is more than 1:3, every butler, waiter, cleaner as friendly as the next one. Butler? Oh yes, and it’s surprising how quickly you can get used to this service albeit strange at the beginning. Every suite (no cabins on this boat), has a seaside view, many have private balconies. The minibar is stocked with your favourite drinks and the choice of toiletries in the bathroom are top of the line.
Let’s start with a glass of champagne and once again, you saw right, champagne and of course some high-class Prosecco if you prefer, it is an Italian ship after all. All drinks are included and there’s nothing shabby about the selection of wine, cognac, port, whiskey whatever you like and not a single tap wine to be spied anywhere. What do you fancy today? Italian with freshly made pasta at La Terazza, a steak prepared by yourself on a hot stone at the Grill or the classy table service of a multi-course meal at the Restaurant? Of course the option of Le Champagne with a menu designed by Michelin star chef Jacques Thorell and prepared with precision by the capable chef, can also be savoured at a surcharge.
At the end of the day there’s a lot more to life than just food and drink, or so some of us think, and it’s exactly this fine attention to detail that makes this cruise line stand out amongst the rest. You find yourself on the way to a port with a rich, historical background, you’re chomping at the bit to know more and then there’s a local expert waiting to give you a lecture in the multi-tiered lounge that doubles as a movie cinema and a cabaret spot. Starting to feel that nervous twitch from too much food and drink and not enough exercise? There’s a jogging track! There’s a fitness centre! There’s a spa and a swimming pool. Calm your nerves in the leather-bound settees of The Humidor, the only indoor place on board where smoking is allowed or do your own research in the well-stocked library.
I talked to some American passengers on shore just to make sure that my own perceptions hadn’t been too clouded by the overall awesomeness of the experience on board. They could not stop praising the service, the friendliness of the staff, the food, the …., the …., but above all:
“It’s the size of the boat! You can get so close to the heart of the city which other large cruise liners simply cannot do. It’s been the same in St. Petersburg, in Helsinki now, in Stockholm. We step off the boat and there’s no need for buses or public transport to cart us around. We’re right there where the action is.”
Attention to detail is not only about luxury. It’s experiences like the above mentioned that make for return customers, it’s the green aspects of waste disposal that are morally ethical, it’s the specialist that tells us about his/her own country that puts the dot on the i. It doesn’t come cheap – at €500/person/day, for most of us it’s a once in a lifetime, never-to-be-forgotten experience. Where’s that piggy bank….